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Weekend retreat in British Columbia: Gambier Island House

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The Gambier Island House is a weekend retreat designed by Mcfarlane Green Biggar Architecture + Design for a young Vancouver couple with two children, located on Gambier Island, British Columbia, Canada. Located on the east side of Gambier Island, the steep and wooded waterfront site is only accessed by water and totally off the grid with independent sources for heat and electricity. In celebration of the rugged qualities of the site, the design is conceived as simple forms and modest materials touching the ground just lightly. Two stacked boxes are perched on the rocky cliff, clad in wood, cement board, and glass to fend off the elements.

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Overlooking the wooded waterfront of Howe Sound and adjacent to a protected, forested watershed and private cove, the secluded home is only accessible via the water. Nested into the rugged topography, the remote and difficult access prioritized design solutions with a focus on formal economy and simple details. Design decisions minimized material requirements, specifically the sparse use of concrete and the prefabrication of certain elements offsite, and reduced the number of barge trips required to deliver the construction material and remove waste. This strategy ensured the construction process had the smallest environmental footprint and brought minimum disruption to the landscape.

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The hybrid structure and clean design responds both to the rugged qualities of the site and the strict environmental controls related to the shoreline. Two stacked boxes clad in wood, cement board, and insulated glass house three bedrooms, two bathrooms and an open plan kitchen, dining and living area over the two and a half levels. Throughout, the floors and ceilings are douglas fir, creating warm interior spaces and a cohesive frame from which to take in the sublime views to the sea and mountains beyond, or to cozily nestle into the rocky fir forests. Expansive roof decks seamlessly extend interior and exterior experiences.

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Three-bedrooms and two bathrooms are complemented by an open-plan kitchen, dining + living area with simple lines to frame the amazing views to sea and mountains beyond, while expansive roof decks create a seamless connection with the spectacular setting.

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Photos: Courtesy of Mcfarlane Green Biggar Architecture + Design

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